Youth Drinking Norms and Individual Alcohol use in Europe – the Social Contagion Effect
A.B. Bräker1, R. Soellner1
1University of Hildesheim, Germany
Background: According to health behavior models, significant others determine behavior, e.g. by providing norms. Especially adolescents tend to conform to peers (social contagion effect). Multilevel analysis can assess the impact of a health behavior’s prevalence of a group on the individual behavior. The purpose of this study is to determine the influence of proportions of problematic alcohol users per country on individual alcohol use. Methods: Self-reported data from 47.790 12 to 16 year olds from 25 European countries was analyzed within a two-level logistic regression. Findings: An individual’s chance to be a problematic alcohol user instead of not is higher if the prevalence rate of problematic alcohol use in a country increases (OR=1.08, p<.001). Thus, in countries like Germany where the proportion of problematic users is high (21%) a student has a higher chance to be a problematic user regardless of any other risk or protective factors than in countries with lower proportions (France, 6.6%). Discussion: In addition to specific risk/protective factors, preventive efforts targeting individual alcohol use should respect the drinking norms within the respective social context.